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Tom Gazzola's 2014 Mock Draft

by Tom Gazzola / Edmonton Oilers

Related mock drafts: Tom Gazzola | Bob Stauffer | Jack Michaels | Chris Wescott
1 FLA Aaron Ekblad, D,
Barrie (OHL)
Big, strong, mentally tough. This guy is a man-child who is ready to step in to the NHL right now. Florida does have some gifted prospects on the back-end, but Ekblad could fit in and help the squad almost immediately.
2 BUF Sam Bennett, C,
Kingston (OHL)
Everyone made a big deal about the pull-up at the Combine. Every team representative from hockey ops that I spoke to in Toronto said they don’t care what these kids can do in physical testing. It’s all about the interview. Regardless, Sam Bennett is still an instinctively gifted forward ready to play for any team that takes him.
3 EDM Sam Reinhart, C,
Kootenay (WHL)
Projected to go 1st overall for much of the year, Reinhart’s capability as a centreman could help the Oilers in the very near future at a position of weakness for the club currently. I spoke with him at the Scouting Combine in May and his height surprised me. He’s tall and lean. Looking a lot like brother Griffin.
4 CGY Leon Draisaitl, C,
Prince Albert (WHL)
He’s a centre, and the Flames have a bit of a log jam down the middle right now. Why not start the German on the wing to begin his transition to the NHL? He could provide a huge 1-2 punch with Sean Monohan in CowTown for a long time.
5 NYI Michael Dal Colle, LW,
Oshawa (OHL)
Given Garth Snow’s decision to retain their 2014 1st round pick and give up next year’s to Buffalo, we could see the Isles taking another one of this year’s elite prospects in Dal Colle. Although he’s listed as a left winger, Colle can also transition to Centre. It's a solid perk for any club thinking of picking him up.
6 VAN William Nylander, LW,
Modo (SWE)
With his mixture of speed, quickness and great puck handling, Nylander could be an asset in Vancouver. The Canucks could use an infusion of youth. Bo Horvat and Nylander could develop under the tutelage of Henrik Sedin.
7 CAR Haydn Fleury, D, Red Deer (WHL) A defenceman from the Red Deer Rebels, Fleury is credited as being mobile and possessing a puck-moving style of play which the Hurricanes could use. Fleury would add some depth to an already young defensive core in Carolina.
8 TOR Nick Ritchie, LW, Peterborough (OHL)
Leafs add some size and skill to the offensive side with Ritchie. The Jamie Benn comparisons are interesting, but Benn brings it on a consistent basis. The knock on Ritchie right now is how often he chooses to turn it up.
9 WPG Kasperi Kapanen, RW, Kalpa (FIN) He's one of many prospects with good bloodlines in this draft. Kapanen, son of Sami, could be a boost to the Jets forward unit.
10 ANA
(From OTT)
Nikolaj Ehlers, LW,
Halifax (QMJHL)
Thanks to the trade that sent Bobby Ryan to the Ottawa Senators, the Anaheim Ducks have the luxury of picking in the top 10. Nikolaj Ehlers, the QJMHL’s 2014 Rookie of the Year, could go before the end or round out this year’s top 10 selections. Ehlers played alongside Jonathan Drouin in Halifax.  Racked up a very impressive 104 points in his first year of hockey in North America.
11 NSH Brendan Perlini, LW,
Niagara (OHL)
Nashville lacks scoring punch up front and could be looking for someone of Perlini’s ilk. Big, strong and talented would be a nice fit in the Music City.
12 PHX Julius Honka, D,
Swift Current (WHL)
The ‘Yotes have a couple of high-end forward prospects knocking on the door in Max Domi and Oil Kings power forward Henrik Samuelsson. My guess is they look to add to the defensive talent pool and go with the next best D-man available.
13 WSH Dylan Larkin, C,

Credited as a heart-and-soul guy with decent talent. Committed to play at the University of Michigan. Maybe his character will rub off on his future Caps teammates.
14 DAL Alex Tuch, RW, USNTDP (USHL)

Big-bodied forward who could blend in well down the road with what the Stars already possess up front. I initially thought Dallas might go for a blueliner, but the first round is deep in forwards this year.
15 DET Nikita Scherbak, LW,
Saskatoon (WHL)
Had a strong season on a bad team in Saskatoon. Been told the Moscow native loves North America. The Red Wings seem to be able to do just fine when it comes to Europeans. Contrast that with the Blue Jackets, who have been stung by high-end Russian players in the past.
16 CBJ Jake Virtanen, RW, Calgary (WHL) Touted as a sniper with a feisty side. Virtanen could find a home with an up-and-coming team like Columbus. I like the Jackets’ mix up-front and think this could be a good fit, if he’s still available at 16.
17 PHI Travis Sanheim, D,
Calgary (WHL)
With cap space issues and an aging blueline, maybe the Flyers look to take the next best defenceman available. Sanheim is big and is said to have shown tremendous improvement throughout 2013-14. Too bad there aren’t many high-end goalies in this year’s draft.
Dougherty, D, USNTDP (USHL)
Another team that may be looking for some defensive depth somewhere down the line. The Wild sure like their homegrown talent and Dougherty is indeed from the State of Hockey. Committed to play at University of Wisconsin, where he’ll be able to develop his game against older, smarter competition.
19 Kevin Fiala, RW, HV-71 (SWE)

A slighter forward with gifted offensive ability. Sounds like someone who GM Steve Yzerman wouldn’t be opposed to having on his team.
20 SJS Jared McCann, C, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) Touted as a two-way centre with a good release, Mccann could comfortably develop in San Jose’s system until he’s ready to make the jump to the show.
21 Conner Bleckley, RW,
Red Deer (WHL)
Decent size and a guy who gets credit for going to the tough areas. The Blues play a certain type of physical hockey and are likely looking to add players who excel at that game.
22 Robert Fabbri, C,
Guelph (OHL)
Interesting times in Pitt. The Pens have a lot of prospects on ‘D’ so maybe a guy like Fabri fits in here. Not the biggest, but plays with tenacity to compliment his offensive upside.
23 David Pastrnak, RW,
Sodertalje (SWE)
From picking 1st overall in 2013 to 23rd in 2014, the Avs have turned it around on a dime. Colorado has had success in the past with talented Czech’s. Could Pastrnak be a Hejduk-type?
24 ANA Roland Mckeown, D,
Kingston (OHL)
It’s nice having the luxury of two picks in the first round. The Ducks go with a D-man with their second pick. D-men take time to develop, so they could bring McKeown along at the proper pace.
25 Sonny Milano, LW, USNTDP (USHL) The flashy forward with the sick mitts is set to play at Boston College. Conveniently, in the Bruins backyard. Would be easy to keep tabs on the prospect.
26 MTL Brett Pollock, LW,
Edmonton (WHL)
Pollock could sneak in to the late first round. If he does, perhaps he’s a fit with the Habs. The Oil Kings sniper has size and plenty of finish.
27 CHI Nick Schmaltz, C,
Green Bay (USHL)
Applauded for his incredible talent, the knock on Schmaltz is he’s a better complimentary player, rather than a leader. Which in the case of Chicago, could work out nicely.
(From NYR)
Ivan Barbashev, C/LW, Moncton (QMJHL) Highly regarded and praised for playing a “North American game”. Lightning management has shown the club isn’t afraid of taking Russian players in the 1st round.
29 Adrian Kempe, LW, Modo Jr. (SWE) Another smooth Swede with a bit of size. Put up 11 points in 45 SHL games after 19 points in 20 games with Modo’s junior squad.
30 NJD Brendan Lemieux, LW, Barrie (OHL) His dad (Claude) had quite the career. Some of his best work came with the Devils. Would New Jersey have faith in the theory, “like father, like son”?
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